Story by Zachary Orr, Assistant News Editor
(WITH VIDEO) – Pocket’s Shell Food Mart, located at the corner of 12th and Chestnut streets, has been closed for unknown reasons for more than a month. Sitting at one of Murray’s busiest intersections, there has been much speculation as to what caused the station to close its doors.
Harold Hurt, attorney for Kentucky Lake Oil Company, which owns Pocket’s, said there were many factors in play that caused the station to close.
The most prominent factor is a gas leak that occurred underground at an adjacent gas station in the 1990s, called TPI, contaminating both the soil and water underneath the station, Hurt said.
“Since that date all the way up until now, (the state) has been trying to remediate the soil and the water contamination and they’ve been unsuccessful,” he said.
There was a license agreement between the TPI station that caused the leak and the state to address the leak whenever they closed, Hurt said. However, TPI did not fulfill the agreement.
“They haven’t been able to do it because they could not do it like we’ve agreed to,” he said.
Instead, Kentucky Lake Oil Company will work with the state to remove and replace the contaminated soil and water, Hurt said.
“The best way to remediate it, according to the state folks, is to tear down everything, haul off the bad soil and get rid of the bad water and put in new soil and be done with it,” Hurt said. “So that’s what is happening.”
Hurt said the affected area is the empty lot sitting to the south of the station. This area is fenced off along with the gas station.
Edward Winner, branch manager for the Underground Storage Tank branch of the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, confirmed that a leak had occurred underneath the Pocket’s location.
Winner said a leak this size is common for gas stations in the area, and it was the choice of Kentucky Lake Oil, not the state, to shut down the station.
The term of the lease between Kentucky Lake Oil Company and the Young family, who owns the property, was about to expire when the gas station closed.
Hurt said there were automatic provisions in the lease for an increase in rent, but he could not say if this affected Kentucky Lake Oil’s decision to close the station.
Kentucky Lake Oil Company did not return phone calls made by The News and was unable to comment if the rent increase affected their decision.
Hurt said it is unclear whether or not Kentucky Lake Oil Company will rebuild in the location after the soil replacement is done.
“That’s to be determined,” Hurt said. “No decision has been made on that right now.”
Many students were inconvenienced when Pocket’s closed.
Erica Gramke, freshman from Fenton, Miss., said she went to Pocket’s regularly.
“I feel like it’s an inconvenience, because I go to that gas station all the time and it’s kind of a hassle going to the other ones,” Gramke said.
Sean Seavers, senior from Goreville, Ill., said that he thinks it was a responsible decision for Pocket’s to close and address the leak.
“Other than that, it’s one of those situations where we enjoy the people that work there and we enjoy the atmosphere in there,” Seavers said. “For it to close, it’s really kind of a bummer.”